As Sprint and T-Mobile are trying to convince Apple to allow them to carry its next iOS smartphone, on the other side of the ocean, it appears that China Mobile might have just acquired that privilege.
A photo showing an iPhone carrying China Mobile’s 3G logo has been posted on several Chinese news websites. The smartphone has no IMEI number, which could be proof the gadget “represents an evaluation model”, Apple Insider reports.
The photo could even suggest that the iPhone 5 might hit the Chinese stores sometime in September, Ticonderoga Securities’ Brian White explains.
China Mobile is the world’s biggest wireless carrier and provides services for 611 million subscribers, or 68% of China’s wireless market. The company operates a 3G TD-SCDMA network, which means that the iPhone 5 needs to support 3G TD-SCDMA to work on China Mobile’s network.
Some four or even five million China Mobile subscribers are using iPhones on its network, although the carrier has not signed any carrier agreement with Apple. However, Apple is suspected of having given a silent consent to that.
The only official Chinese carrier allowed to sell the iOS smartphone is China Unicom, but Apple is likely to accept China Mobile as its carrier since this would be an extremely lucrative deal for the Cupertino-based company.